Additive manufacturing is in a constant state of evolution. AM solutions that were developed barely a decade ago are wildly different from cutting-edge solutions available today.
It’s no secret that Velo3D is working to transform how parts are manufactured. By adding levels of control every step of the way, we’ve created a truly reliable and repeatable end-to-end metal 3D AM solution. Velo3D represents a synergy of software and hardware, with each aspect working in lockstep to help achieve previously impossible geometries and complexity of parts.
By adding levels of control every step of the way, we’ve created a truly reliable and repeatable end-to-end metal 3D AM solution.
Of course, it all begins with design.
In this article, the first in a three-part series exploring the Velo3D end-to-end solution, we’re going to highlight how Velo3D simplifies the parts design process to ensure design intent, while slashing print preparation time through its revolutionary FlowTM software.
The Quest to Preserve Design Intent While Encouraging Design Freedom
Unfortunately, many traditional AM and manufacturing processes are defined by compromise:
- An engineer begins with an idea of the part they want
- The design then works its way through iterations of engineers slicing and dicing design files until it’s printable
While this process is ideal for ensuring manufacturability, the initial intent of the design may get lost along the way.
The Velo3D FlowTM software, by contrast, works to preserve the initial intent of the design down to the most complex interior angles. To help achieve that preservation, FlowTM adheres to CAD workflows that are industry standard for engineers. Rather than taking a CAD file, adapting it to an STL and then creating dozens of print file iterations, FlowTM translates the original CAD into a single build file that is optimized for print exclusively on Velo3D Sapphire® printers. This integration of hardware and software helps designers avoid the variances and shortcomings of traditional metal AM solutions.
By eliminating compromise in the print preparation process, FlowTM encourages freedom of design. Other production methods—even traditional AM processes—are riddled with limitations in the capabilities of both design software and how those designs translate to print. Within FlowTM, engineers are able to design the exact part they need, including low angles down to zero degrees, low overhangs, and other complex geometric challenges that need to be solved for in other print preparation systems.
Other production methods—even traditional AM processes—are riddled with limitations in the capabilities of both design software and how those designs translate to print.
Additionally, by removing these design iterations inherent in other traditional manufacturing solutions, FlowTM software drastically reduces print preparation times because there is no need to solve for the variances of a printer disconnected from the design process.
Intuitively Ensuring Design Quality
Simplicity within the design process is more than file preparation. For engineers to have a clear idea of the print outcome before the part reaches production, it’s important to have visual modeling and confirmation that designs are meeting specifications.
Without simulation, there can be too much of the manufacturing process left to chance; in traditional metal AM, external modeling programs work to predict the outcomes of the print, but since there is no integration between the printers and the models, the simulations may not provide an accurate representation needed to have confidence in the outcome. With FlowTM, the simulation engine was designed in conjunction with Sapphire® printers, which provides an accurate understanding of how the designed part will translate to a full AM print.
Drawing the Design Process into a Broader Organizational Structure
With many traditional AM solutions, it can be a relatively isolated process. Engineers work in close collaboration with contract manufacturers in the design phase, iterate on the design to build files for print, and then go through trial and error until they reach a finalized part. It’s a process generally plagued with inefficiency because each design challenge is witnessed in isolation.
There are structural frameworks and learnings from every part design that compounds upon the designs that came before it. One of the unique features of the Velo3D FlowTM software is that the collective learning from past designs can become the cornerstone of addressing future design challenges.
For example, within FlowTM software, engineers are given access to an in-depth process library that contains dozens of existing part designs. As they work to create their own unique parts, these process “recipes” can be easily applied with the push of a button, saving months of development. By leveraging successful design elements of the past that have been tested and proven on Sapphire® printers, engineers are given an extra level of assurance that their designs will translate to a valid and usable print.
Within FlowTM software, engineers are given access to an in-depth process library that contains dozens of existing part designs.
Having access to a universal design library is a cornerstone of the consistency offered by the Velo3D end-to-end AM solution, but it’s not the only element.
Additionally, the integration of software and hardware makes it so any design developed in FlowTM software can be printed on any Velo3D Sapphire® printer. This universality solves for the inconsistencies of legacy AM systems; any part designed in FlowTM can be printed anywhere in the world, on demand.
The integration of software and hardware makes it so any design developed in FlowTM software can be printed on any Velo3D Sapphire® printer.
That means the same geometry and material characteristics outcomes regardless of whether a part is printed in Oklahoma or Ohio, Seville or Seoul.
The Velo3D end-to-end metal AM system begins with design, but it doesn’t end there. FlowTM software is just one component of a process that also includes revolutionary printing hardware and built-in quality assurance. In part two of this series, we’ll discuss what makes printing on the Sapphire® system so special.
Learn more about FlowTM software here. And don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our expert engineers. We’re here to answer all of your questions about metal AM and the unique end-to-end solution Velo3D is pioneering.